The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration has confirmed a flight attendant was held “under duress” by a passenger onboard an Air China flight from the central Chinese city of Changsha to Beijing on Sunday morning. Shocking photos have now emerged of a man holding an object to the female flight attendant’s neck as passengers look on in horror.
Air China flight CA1350 took off at around 8.40am local time and was diverted to the city of Zhengzhou after the incident unfolded. The Airbus A321 aircraft landed safely approximately 1hr 15mins after takeoff – Chinese authorities have said that no passengers or crew were injured.
It’s not immediately clear why the man attempted to take the flight attendant hostage, with authorities so far declining to release details of the passenger or his motives. However, China has been fighting growing dissent from a wide variety of groups including political, religious and regional breakaway factions.
Unruly passenger behaviour has also become a particular problem for many Chinese airlines – especially as flying becomes ever more affordable for China’s growing Middle Classes. Stories of passengers smoking and ignoring other safety-related rules are very common.
In 2016 there was even the case of a Chinese tourist who activated the emergency slide on a China Southern aircraft in order to “get some fresh air“. Similar incidents have been reported both before and after this case. Unruly passengers now face heavy fines and airline blacklists that could ban them from air travel for life.
Some reports suggest the flight attendant was held against her will with a fountain pen but a photo of a craft knife has now emerged as the real weapon used by the passenger.
In a statement on Weibo, Air China said the flight had to be diverted due to “public safety reasons”.